Short Takes Winter 2021
Tenth Anniversary in Calgary, Canada
The tenth anniversary celebration for the Apostolic Faith Church in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, was held September 4-6, 2020, at a local rented facility. Attendees came from the cities of Calgary, Lethbridge, and Edmonton in Alberta, as well as Winnipeg, Manitoba. There were also online attendees from various time zones around the world, and all the services were streamed via Zoom and YouTube. The theme of the celebration was taken from Psalm 118:23, “This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.”
The special weekend included a Friday evening service with a prerecorded greeting and sermon from Reverend Chris Hewlett, District Superintendent of Canada. He first sent greetings on behalf of all the Canadian branch churches and then thanked Mary Fasola, the Calgary group leader, and all the workers for their efforts in spreading the Gospel over the past ten years. His sermon brought out that Christians can be confident that God will give them victory in their spiritual battles when they put their trust in Him.
On Saturday afternoon, a youth meeting was held on the topic of “Relationships,” with several panelists answering questions from those watching in person and online. In the evening, through a prerecorded video, Superintendent General Darrel Lee thanked the congregation for working together to establish the work in Calgary. In another recorded message, Reverend Bob Downey, Director of North America Work, reminded the congregation that the main desire is to see souls saved.
On Sunday, Reverend Marjorie Reid, the pastor in Fort McMurray, Alberta, gave the morning message from 1 Samuel 7:11-14. She brought out that anniversaries are memorials to commemorate the victories that God has given, and she stressed the need for all to build altars in their hearts, just as Samuel built an altar to the Lord.
Sunday evening featured a historical recap of the work in Calgary and an evening of music. The children of the congregation presented Bible recitations on thankfulness and gave reasons why they were thankful. Also, more recorded messages from around the world were played, including from Adebayo Adeniran, District Superintendent of West and Central Africa, and Isaac Adigun, District Superintendent of United Kingdom. In addition, recorded testimonies were played from those who had been a part of Calgary’s success over the past ten years.
The anniversary celebration was a wonderful reminder of God’s faithfulness, and an encouragement to all who attended. The congregation in Calgary is grateful for how God has brought them from a small beginning to where they are today!
New App for South Korean Churches
In part motivated by the COVID-19 closures, our churches in South Korea created a church app for mobile devices which gives convenient access to broadcasts of their services and other spiritual resources. The app complements what is already available through the website of our Korean churches.
All of our South Korea churches were closed last March and could only meet online, but health restrictions have eased considerably and the churches have all partially reopened now, though they still hold some meetings online. South Korea District Superintendent Jeong Min Kim has been visiting the Korean branch churches every two months during the viral outbreak, and teaching on two specific topics. The first topic is “True Repentance,” with the text of Psalm 51:1-4. The second is Protestant church history from The Reformation (1517) to The Azusa Revival (1906) and its significance to the Apostolic Faith Church. The saints have been very encouraged by both messages, especially in learning how our church is anchored in God's Word and how God has used it around the world over the years.
Church Growth During the Philippines’ National Shut Down
Despite limitations presented by the coronavirus outbreak, Gospel workers in the Philippines rejoiced for the progress of the Gospel in the city of Bulac, Talevera. That location had been an area of outreach for some time, and now Sunday services are being held there regularly. In other locations, a new pastor has been ordained and two new assisting ministers have been appointed as well.
Most of our churches in the Philippines were able to return to meeting in person several months ago with new health precautions in place. When the Bagong Sikat headquarters church started meeting in person again, they were happy to be able to do so with new donated cameras that improved their online streaming services.
Some special events across the country could not be held in person, but the Filipino leaders found a way to hold them online instead. On October 14, the Binalonan congregation held online meetings to commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of their church and thirty-fifth anniversary of the founding of the work in their area. More recently, an online youth camp was held November 4-7. This was the second online youth camp of the year, with the first taking place in early June. The theme of the fall camp was “The Fruit Bearing Christian,” and the event included two evangelistic services, four Bible Studies, a concert, and a Bible quiz with participants representing all of our Filipino churches as well as some expatriates living abroad.
The saints in the Philippines thank God that the Gospel and its reach has been enhanced even during these difficult times.
Provision in Nigeria
Reverend Adebayo Adeniran, the District Superintendent of West and Central Africa, reports that God has been a very present help in times of trouble this year. The saints have not only survived the challenges of 2020 but have great confidence in their future because of Almighty God.
One example of God’s favor was in March, when a Nigerian team visiting the work in Rwanda was barely able to return home by securing the last two seats on the last flight out of Rwanda before that country went into lockdown. Then in April, food that had been intended for an Easter celebration became survival provisions during Nigeria’s national lockdown, and God made a way for police escorts to allow food deliveries to church members’ houses. During the mandated closures, many drew closer to God by participating in all-day prayer chains from home. In time, empty schools were able to be used as places of prayer and people began retracing their steps back to God. The Gospel radio channel has also been a blessing to many; in a time when people could not meet to worship in person, the twenty-four-hour broadcast fed, encouraged, inspired, and trained listeners spiritually. Workers were especially thrilled to be able to reach many children with live broadcasts of Sunday school classes.
Though it was not possible to hold a traditional camp meeting this year, special camp meeting services were held online in August, with thousands reporting that they received salvation, sanctification, the baptism of the Holy Ghost, and other blessings at home. Youth choir and orchestra members from congregations in Nigeria, Benin, and Ghana collaborated to present a concert, and the ministers and workers were also able to hold meetings online with individuals participating from many countries.
In early October, workers from Lagos, Nigeria, traveled to visit saints in the Ado-Ekiti region and their return trip turned into a dangerous situation caused by rioting and road blockages. Truly their very lives were in jeopardy, but the team hid in a hotel and held an emergency prayer session. God guided their safe return home before dawn the next day, just before the unrest in the streets became deadly. On October 20, Nigeria’s Independence Day, a twenty-four-hour prayer chain was set up with regions participating in two-hour shifts. The saints in Nigeria continue looking to God as their source of confidence and survival in every trial.
Inaugural Service Held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
On November 15, about a dozen gathered in person and another dozen joined online for the inaugural service held at a new Apostolic Faith location in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The group leader, Boniface Osunkwo, said the event was a remarkable answer to prayer considering that so many churches have recently had to close due to health restrictions and financial distress.
For many years, the group in Milwaukee had been commuting over an hour each way to attend Sunday services in Worth, Illinois. Recent State COVID-19 restrictions prohibited interstate travel for activities such as attending church, so being able to hold services locally is even more appreciated. The group leader said this development brought healing and hope to the saints in Milwaukee, stating, “We are indeed very joyful, and our mouths are filled with laughter like those in Psalm 126.” He added that the group is both excited and humbled to have the privilege of sharing the Gospel message with the people of their city.
This first Sunday morning service brought greetings from around the world, including from Reverend Karen Storey (the recently retired pastor of our church in Worth), Reverend Robert Downey (Director of North America Work), Reverend Darrel Lee (Superintendent General), and many others who are praying for the success of this new group. During the sermon, the congregation was reminded of the Israelites’ entry into Canaan, and they were encouraged to believe God’s Word and to possess what He has promised. A powerful prayer meeting closed the service, and the saints went home rejoicing.